The Year of St. Joseph

Called by Pope Francis to highlight the importance of the role of St. Joseph, the year dedicated to him finishes on Wednesday next the 8th. The year has helped us to reflect more than usual on the man who looked after Mary and Jesus. I think the prayer that Pope Francis gave us captures the essence of Joseph’s mission and his important role in our faith. The prayer opens with “Hail, Guardian of the Redeemer, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary.” We greet him acknowledging his wonderful role as guardian of Jesus. We will encounter that in the Christmas season liturgy — he does everything he can to ensure the safety of Mary and Jesus.

The prayer then teases out that role of guardian — the divine aspect, “to you God entrusted his only Son”; – the human aspect, “in you Mary placed her trust”; – and the third dimension, unite both aspects and we see the reality of Joseph’s role “with you Christ became man”.

Based on that Pope Francis presents the petitions of the prayer. “Blessed Joseph, to us too, show yourself a father”. From that comes the aspects of Christian fatherhood — “to guide us on the path of life; to obtain for us grace, mercy and courage” that each one of us needs in a world that often lacks a basic sense of human dignity and sees that dignity stripped from so many through the deeds of others; and that inspires the final aspect “and defend us from every evil.”

Even though the year of St. Joseph is finishing may we not forget him and keep him firmly in our minds. All of us who reflect on him will have our particular way to approach him and our own understanding for what to ask of him. My main hope at this time in relation to him is to let the example of him, as outlined in the prayer, the father figure for Christ, inspire all fathers, including the spiritual fathers, the Church’s clergy.